The West of England Careers Hub work with schools across the region. The team provide support alongside the Careers & Enterprise Company, which includes Enterprise Advisers, Gatsby Benchmarking, SEND and information events.
The rationale was to address a lack of meaningful employer engagement in the school’s careers programme for Year 7 students. The school did this by running a new careers-based project based on the BBC show ‘Dragon’s Den’.
The idea came from the school’s two enterprise advisers from Red Door Coaching and Training who job-shared the role. Key first steps were to win support from the careers leader and school senior leadership team (SLT), and gain feedback from employers, students and teachers, to both evaluate the project and plan how to scale up to the entire year group. The first step was piloting the programme with twenty-one Year 7 students.
The school' careers leader worked with other teachers and Enterprise Advisers and ran a series of workshops to show students what a good business plan looked like and how to put together an effective pitch and presentation. The students then agreed on their pitch for a new restaurant taking into consideration location, theme, staffing costs and other competitors on the market. The students brought a copy of their business plan to the final event, along with a PowerPoint presentation and were dressed in smart, professional clothes.
The Enterprise Advisers gave a presentation to the employers including an overview of the school, the rationale behind the project and profiles of the students involved. Employers agreed timescales, the host venue, final panellist team and a set of panellist questions.
The school and the Enterprise Advisers agreed to host the final pitch off the school site in one of the local restaurant venues to make the experience more realistic. In addition, the Enterprise Advisers created a resource pack for both the students and the employers involved.
Although the primary focus of the project was employer engagement, employability was embedded into curriculum learning too:
Piloting the project gave insights into the project’s future potential and the challenges. These were:
Challenges aside, this was a very successful project and the students gained valuable experience in understanding some of the mechanics involved in business whilst benefitting from excellent employer interaction and support.
Another successful outcome was teachers within the school were able to utilise expertise of local employers within the curriculum. The school was able to tap into the local employer network to help deliver employer activities and knowledge of LMI. Teachers in the school became more aware of priority growth sectors, trends and the changing nature of work.
Finally, the creation of a new model of experiences in the workplace with strong, sustainable relationships with local businesses and the ongoing development of a hybrid model of workplace visits and work experience was created.
“As a result of this project I am now creating an in-depth student journey that highlights what students will be receiving over their 7 years with us. This will help us map out our key areas and plan for the next few years, rather than months. It will become part of the Year 7 PSHE programme and therefore be built into the curriculum.”